Mammography is a specialised medical imaging method that uses a low dose X-ray system to see inside the breasts. A mammography examination aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women, like microcalcification, nodules, mastitis, cysts, benign lumps, and cancer.
As per the Singapore Health Promotion Board’s recommendations, you should go for a mammography examination once a year if you are aged 40-49 years old, or once every two years if you are aged 50 years and above.
However, if you are below this age range but present with worrying symptoms, such as breast lump or nipple discharge, you are strongly encouraged to consult your doctor immediately for medical attention. As part of the management of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you to go for a mammography examination.
As with most radiological procedures, there may be preparations that will be required to be done by you to ensure a successful and smooth mammography appointment. Below are some preparations needed to ensure a smooth and successful mammography examination.
Appointment rescheduling: If you are still getting regular menstruation, it is recommended to avoid scheduling appointment dates close to the start of your menstrual cycle as breasts tend to be more tender during this period. Try to schedule the mammography appointment one to two weeks after the start of your period.
If you had a very recent COVID-19 vaccination done, you may experience enlarged/swollen lymph nodes. This may affect the interpretation of the mammogram results. While not everyone will experience post-vaccine symptoms, women are encouraged to schedule their mammography appointment before the COVID-19 vaccination or at least four to six weeks after the latest COVID-19 vaccination.
Fasting and medications Fasting and stopping of any medications is NOT required for mammography.
Patient position during mammography Routinely, the mammograms are performed with the patient in the standing position. In special circumstances, mammograms can be performed in the sitting position.
You may be requested to change to our X-ray attire.
Expect some questions to be asked to obtain relevant medical history before the start of the mammography examination.
Follow the guidance of the radiographer who will position you to get unobstructed views of your breast(s).
After the radiographer has positioned you, your breast will be gradually compressed by a plastic plate for about 15 seconds. This compression is important to ensure that the breast tissues are well spread out for visualization of small abnormalities and reduction of radiation exposure.
Due to the breast compression, mammography can be an uncomfortable experience. The level of discomfort can vary due to the timing of mammography in relation to your menstrual cycle and individual pain tolerance.
A typical mammography examination takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
For some patients, the breasts can be sore after mammography. This is common and can last a few days.
For specialised procedures, such as breast biopsy, post-procedural care instructions will be given to you on the day of the examination.
Our radiologists will review and report on your mammography examination. The results will be sent electronically to your referring clinician who will discuss it with you on your next appointment.
Bill adjustment at Counter (if applicable).
End of Appointment.
Is mammography examination safe?
Although mammography examination involves the use of X-ray, modern equipment uses only a tiny amount of radiation for each examination. The proper application of compression further decreases the amount of radiation that you are exposed to.
Can I still go for a mammography examination if I have breast implants?Yes, you can. Inform the radiographer on the day of examination so she is aware because special positioning techniques will need to be used.Can I still go for a mammography examination if I am currently breast feeding?You will need to wait at least 6 months after you stop breast-feeding before you can do your mammography examination. This is because your breasts will be compressed during the mammography examination and the milk ducts in your breasts can lead to inaccurate results.
Should I reschedule my appointment if my COVID-19 vaccination was taken recently?Discuss with your doctor if there is a need for you to go for a mammography examination soon after you received the vaccine. Your doctor will be able to advice based on your clinical history and presentation if you should reschedule your mammography appointment.
Can I get medical leave for my mammography examination appointment?No medical leave will be issued on the day of the scan. An excuse chit can be given upon request.
Contributed by Department of Radiology.